Sunshine Supermen

  • by: |
  • 03/20/2008
Check out H.R. 5605, the “Physicians Payments Sunshine Act of 2008. The sponsor is Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and one of the co-sponsors is Pete Stark (D-CA). Here's a link to the proposed legislation:

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(Another of the co-sponsors is Representative Dennis Kucinich – glad he’s getting back to work after the grueling primary season.)

The bill calls for the reporting of absolutely everything (and they thought of everything) over $25.00 considered “a transfer of value” to a physician.

(What’s the AWP for a large pizza and a liter of Diet Coke these days?)

The penalties are between $10,000 - $100,000 and multiple offenders can say adios to their corporate deductions for advertising related expenses.

According to Mr. Stark, “The Sunshine Act will help enable Medicare beneficiaries to determine if their doctors are acting in patients’ best interests. It may even convince doctors to quit taking what can only be described as industry kickbacks."

Kickbacks? That’s a pretty strong accusation. Mr. Stark should apologize to America’s physicians and to the pharmaceutical industry he slanders so easily. And as far as America’s Medicare beneficiaries, Mr. Stark might also want to mention that the Medicare Drug Benefit (Part D) doesn’t "pay" doctors.

Mr. DeFazio issued some equally thoughtful and measured comments:

"If the billions of dollars drug companies spend taking doctors on trips to the Caribbean and to expensive dinners at the country’s finest restaurants are above-board, then the pharmaceutical industry should support our legislation. This bill will keep the pharmaceutical industry honest."

Speaking of “honesty,” Mr. DeFazio should own up to the fact that the aforementioned boondoggle trips and are against the rules.

But this has nothing to do with honesty and everything to do with posturing – and hidden agendas. (One of the groups supporting this legislation is Consumers Union – yes, the same organization that receives millions of dollars from foundations supported by the generic drug industry.)

The concept that big bad Pharma is to blame for everything, and that a $25.15 pizza party is at the heart of the destruction of medical ethics, isn’t just simplistic and sophistic but deleterious to a serious conversation about the issue.

H. R. 5605 is just another example of superbity from our legislative Sultans of Sanctimony.

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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